The Ministry of Education announced on July 30, that Elementary schools across Ontario would begin the school year in a Full Return model.
Full Return Model With Enhanced Health and Safety Models
For families who choose to have their child/children return to school in person, your elementary student(s) would return to school with enhanced safety measures and will be part of a common cohort of students to limit contact. The Ministry of Education has directed school boards to ensure that direct and indirect contacts in schools for students be limited to approximately 50 students. Bell times and school day schedules would look mostly like what students and families experienced prior to our school closures in March with approximately 300 minutes of face-to-face teacher instruction. Students would have two, forty-minute nutrition breaks with staggered outdoor breaks to ensure cohorts are maintained and physical distancing is maximized. However, there will be increased health and safety measures in place including staggered entry and exit of students, frequent hand hygiene, the required use of masks for students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 and enhanced cleaning measures as a few examples.
Cohorting of Students
This practice limits the number of other students that a single student is in contact with. Direct and indirect contacts* in schools for elementary students should be limited to approximately 50. This practice will also facilitate contact tracing should that be necessary. Elementary students should be cohorted with their classmates and their homeroom teacher. Specialized teachers, like French teachers, will still be able to go into classrooms to provide the full breadth of programming for students.
*Indirect contacts include; planning time teachers, support staff and educators, administrative staff, office staff, etc. to a maximum of 50 contacts per student.
Students will enter and exit our school sites and classrooms in controlled ways and under the supervision of staff. Entry and exit procedures will ensure adherence to physical distancing and other enhanced health and safety protocols such as wayfinding to support directionality and signage throughout the school.
Students will remain in their cohorts and eat lunch in their classrooms and will be under the supervision of our staff. Students will be expected to engage in proper hand hygiene before and after students eat.
Students will engage in outdoor play and recess in staggered ways. Students will play outside within their class cohort, weather permitting. Please note, all Creative Playground structures will remain closed until further notice.
Use of shared objects (for example, gym or physical education equipment, art supplies, toys, games) will be limited when possible, or the objects that must be shared between cohorts will be cleaned between each use. Whenever possible, students will be provided with individual learning materials for their use in class.
Expectations for Personal Belongings/Desks/Lockers
- Personal belongings brought to school should be minimized.
- Personal items being brought to school (e.g., backpack, clothing, sun protection, water bottles, food) should be labeled and stored separately in cubbies/designated areas or lockers.
- Student Desks – All students will be assigned to a desk or to a spot at a collaborative table and a seating plan must be created and kept up to date.
- Student Lockers – Student Lockers will not be used at this time.
Schools should timetable bathroom breaks in the school day to stagger use of bathrooms and monitor physical distancing. Signage will be posted that indicates the maximum number of people simultaneously using the bathroom at any given point. Individual students should not be prevented from accessing bathrooms as needed.
Rotary Teachers & Subjects
Rotary teachers are regarded as indirect contacts with students. Rotary / Subject specialized teachers will still be able to move between classrooms to provide the full breadth of programming for students. In some cases, students will need to travel to other classrooms. In this instance, students should use school wayfinding and practice physical distancing while travelling throughout the school.
French Immersion students will continue to engage in the French Immersion program. Where possible, students will remain in their classroom and the teachers will rotate into the classrooms for instruction.
Kindergarten Considerations / Health and Safety
The ministry recognizes that physical distancing between young children is difficult and encourages educators to maintain a welcoming and caring environment for children. Kindergarten educators will welcome and support children to play and learn in ways that adhere to enhanced health and safety requirements as established by WRDSB in cooperation with public health:
- Each kindergarten classroom will be considered a cohort, children attending kindergarten will participate in play-and inquiry-based learning.
- Educators will plan for learning opportunities that balance the need for increased physical distancing while recognizing the need for young children to move freely within the room and interact with one another.
When in the same common space (e.g., entrances, dressing for outdoors in hallways) physical distancing of at least 2 metres will be maintained between different classroom cohorts.
Elementary Distance Learning
The WRDSB recognizes that some families may elect to have their child(ren) learn from home rather than return to school in September. The WRDSB has developed a plan to support students who will engage in Full Distance Learning until such time as they are able to return to school. Through the WRDSB Confirmation of Attendance Form, which was available until August 28, 2020, families communicated if they wish their child(ren):
- To attend school in-person (Elementary In-Person Learning and Secondary Adapted Learning), or
- To participate in Full Online Distance Learning from home, or
- Tech-free/Paper-based Distance Learning
WRDSB Elementary students who choose Full Distance Learning – Online or Tech-free/Paper based, will participate in real time, synchronous learning for a portion of each day. Students will learn at home using WRDSB platforms: Google Classroom and Brightspace (VLE). Classes will be led by qualified teachers at scheduled times during the school day. The amount of time students will spend in Full Distance Learning will be equal to the same amount of time as students who chose In-Person Learning. It will be expected that students in the Full Distance Learning Model participate every day; attendance will be monitored.
For students who engage in Full Distance Learning in a technology-free manner, packages of learning resources and supports will be provided and will fulfill grade appropriate curriculum requirements. A teacher or designated education staff will be supporting students through this learning mode and will make regular contact by phone. Phone calls are intended to be a way of connecting with students, providing opportunities to answer questions they may have and providing feedback on completed work. Regular Cycles of student Assessment and Evaluation (diagnostic, formative, summative) will apply. There will be an emphasis on conversations and observations to complement the collection of student work products.
WRDSB families/students who require support with technology or Internet access to engage in Full Distance Learning can contact their school in the week August 31-September 4 to request support. Students in this model will be assigned to a qualified WRDSB teacher (the teacher may not be from their school) and with other peers (who may not be from their school) in a Full Distance Learning class. This Full Distance Learning class will have its own digital learning platform and instruction will occur online through asynchronous and synchronous learning opportunities. Ontario curriculum will be taught, assessed and evaluated. Full Distance Learning Teachers will provide synchronous learning opportunities which may include individual or small group support (video conferencing via Google Meet, phone calls), mini-lessons and content/skill-based instruction, as appropriate.
WRDSB families of elementary students in the Full Distance Learning model will be provided with a schedule of synchronous (real time) and asynchronous (independent) learning opportunities. This schedule will be provided in advance to support families with planning.
Synchronous learning involves using text, video, or voice communication in a way that enables educators and other members of the school- or board-based team to instruct and connect with students in real time.
Asynchronous learning: Learning that is not delivered in real time. Asynchronous learning may involve students watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion boards.
Student attendance will be taken daily. Families will be contacted in the case of an unreported absence to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. Students will receive the daily minimum learning time:
Kindergarten: 180 minutes of live (synchronous) learning each day and 120 minutes of independent (asynchronous) learning each day.
Gr 1 – 8: 225 minutes of live (or synchronous) learning each day and 35 minutes of independent (asynchronous) learning each day.
Students will have frequent, live contact with their teacher. Live (or synchronous) learning will include text, video, or voice communication that allows teachers to instruct and connect students in real time. Live learning supports the well-being and academic achievement of students with immediate feedback from teachers and student to student interaction. Live learning will include whole class, small group, and individual interactions. Independent (or asynchronous) learning is not delivered in real time. It may include watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion boards.
Distance Learning Program
Students will continue to be considered part of their home school, but shared with a “Distance Learning Program”. Students will most likely be grouped with students who are from different schools. Teachers will be teaching students not only from their school, but from schools across the region. Distance learning students will be grouped according to their grade-level, with the exception of French Immersion at Elementary.
We have grouped all Elementary French Immersion (FI) students in the same program to maximize the use of our Distance Learning French Teachers. Once we have a better idea of the total number of FI teachers and classes, we will be able to plan for as much instructional time in French as possible. The amount of instructional time and subjects taught in French will be communicated to families between September 8 to 11.
The Distance Learning Program will be organized into divisions:
- Junior Kindergarten/Senior Kindergarten
- Primary: Grades 1 to 3
- Junior: Grades 4 to 6
- Intermediate: Grades 7 and 8
- French Immersion: Grades 1 to 8
The Elementary Distance Learning (DL) will begin with a focus on creating connections and a sense of belonging between September 9 to 11. During that week, educators will focus on building relationships with students and families, ensuring that families have the appropriate technology for on-line learning or learning materials for tech-free learning, as well as establishing routines. In addition, educators will receive daily professional development in building their on-line classroom using either Brightspace/VLE or Google Classroom. Families will receive their child(ren)’s daily/weekly schedules from their child(ren)’s teachers during the week of September 8 to 11. Beginning September 14, DL schedules will begin for all staff and students.
Students and Educators teaching in the Elementary Distance Learning Program will continue to access resource supports from the home school. i.e., Guidance Teachers, Special Education Resource Teachers, English as a Second Language Teachers and Child and Youth Workers as needed. The home school in collaboration with the Elementary Distance Learning Teacher will also support the development of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) where needed.
Transitioning from Distance Learning to In-Person Learning
For families who wish to make a change from Distance Learning to In-Person learning, these changes will occur at two natural transition points in the year: Mid-October or February 3, 2021 (First Term Report Card). Families are asked to contact their home school principal by September 25 at 4:00 pm for the Mid-October transition point.
To ensure that transitions between modes of learning minimize gaps in programming, all teachers, whether teaching in-person or Distance Learning, will follow a designated Long Range Plan for Mathematics.